Somehow Guy.com found me. They are a great new site for guys only, and I had the utmost pleasure working with their amazingly creative and talented Managing Editor, Andrea Rothe. Here's what happened . . .
As consumers, what we purchase is an extension of our ethics, financial state, and in a sense, our personalities. While no human being is so one-dimensional that he truly falls into the “I am therefore I buy” mantra, we are in a sense remotely defined by our purchasing decisions. When you’re buying something, you’re probably not necessarily thinking about the earth or corporate politics or what kind of gentleman that bar of soap will make you; but one thing is true: if you’re informed, you can always choose better and smarter. That’s why if we find a product with a truly amazing story or something that we find is a “smart” product, we’ll share it with you and investigate the why.
As a busy editor, when I came across Nurturemybody.com, I became fascinated with a story that ran very deep beneath the online organic products shop founded by Patty Kerr and Rich Arnold in 2006. Quite simply, their business is as much a business as it is a mission. It’s evident in why they price their products the way they do and how and where they acquire the ingredients that are going on and into your body. With a self-imposed code of standards, they’ve stacked against themselves a pile of challenges that find them reaching out to local organic farmers and markets to make ethical purchases. They also heavily research prices and ingredients so that the product you use in the shower or elsewhere is what they say it is and offered to you for a price that’s fair. They are transparent. In the spirit of GUY, which is becoming a better guy, when we find someone that is a mentor in any walk of life, we want to meet them and share their story with you.
I contacted Rich who is the husband of the owner and founder of the company, and he is one of those people whose enthusiasm is contagious. He’s been in business with his wife Patty since 2006. It’s her brain child. But it’s their shared passion. They’ve manage to offer a suite of products — of which 38 out of 43 are rated a zero out of ten on the toxicity scale on the consumer friendly cosmeticsdatabase.com. The unique business and passion has paved a unique path in life for Rich and we wanted to know more. What’s life and business like for a gentleman that keeps a goat named Bella in his back yard?
On Working with the Wife
GUY: So what’s it like working with your wife? What are some of the challenges you had to overcome to be able to work as partners?
The greatest challenge I learned working with my wife is to trust her and stay out of her hair. Being a control freak, I have had to adopt the policies of Laissez Faire and Separation of Church and State. These are the two best ways to run a business with one’s wife where you lay claim to your own side of the fence and never cross over. We both have our responsibilities and have learned that encroaching upon the others’ duties (giving into temptation to be that control freak) absolutely does not work.
GUY: What advice would you give a guy that’s going into business with his gal that would keep things smooth between the two?
You’ve heard of ‘Honor your Mother and Father’? Well, honor your Gal. That woman has the same brain capacity as you — not less — and I’ve had to eat my words when it came to my genetic male programming of superiority. After 15 years of being together, out of the “closet” walked a genius woman that I never knew existed. The result – the birth of a worldwide business that manufactures one of the safest and most effective lines of organic personal care products on the planet.
GUY: So are you Patty’s “wingman?” How does that work? Because it seems like it’s working.
You know that old adage, “Behind every successful man is a woman?” Well, truth be told, I’ve had to rewrite it to be, “In front of every successful man is a powerful woman.” It’s really okay to acknowledge the brilliance and creativity of your partner. After all, that woman in your life is truly your reflection, isn’t she?
Why You Do What You Do
GUY: Was there a catalyst that made you and your wife decide to manufacture and market strictly organic products? Something had to make you and/or her “care.”
Once upon a time Patty almost died from chemical sensitivity, a result of years of working as a stylist and aesthetician in the hair industry. What made her “care” was that she loved the industry but it became imperative for her to come up with a healthy solution that offered the same results as the most expensive and effective beauty products that had chemicals in them. After seven years of research and development Nurture My Body was born.
GUY: After watching a number of your candid chats on your YouTube channel, I see that you’re pretty adamant about the choice to use natural and/or organic products being one that’s self-protective and family-protective. It’s not about money. Yet we as consumers are taught to value lower prices rather than long term benefits. Where and why do you think that disconnect is happening?
Some guys are self-employed but most get a paycheck. You have to divvy up those bucks a million different ways to survive on a daily basis. You’ve got $100 this week to spend on food and toiletries so when you run out of shampoo or shave cream are you going to spend $7 for the cheap chemical stuff or $23 for safe organic stuff? Hmm, I wonder if while you’re standing at the counter contemplating the choice, are you thinking that in 5, 10, 15 years down the road cancer could be knocking at your door, or your crotch? I doubt it. Cancer doesn’t happen to you, and besides, can it really be proven that years of absorbed chemicals in the body can cause serious illness? Well, the answer to that question is a resounding yes! However, the literature that supports those types of decisions are not found sitting next to the cheap, chemically-laden $7 shampoo.
Let’s say you’ve gotten a “sign” [and&91; read up on what’s all over the internet, legislation and news. Super. Now you’ve been educated and have an inkling of how precious life is and what you do in the early years to your body will affect your aging body. But you still only have $100 this week for food and toiletries. What’s a guy to do?
The answer to that question is as numerous as the guys on this planet. Solutions abound when your life is on the line. There is so much incontrovertible evidence that our lives are definitely on the line after all the years of inundation by the chemicals from the mega-corporations who only care about profits and don’t give a damn about your life 10 or 20 years from now. It’s time to pay attention and think beyond the box. You want to be healthy and live longer? Focus, put your mind to it, and make it happen.
GUY: Do you see yourself helping out the everyday Joe in what you do? I read that you work with a lot of local farmers. Is there a more personal connection with your “bros” when you do business?
For me, the voice – speaking to a real person, our vendors – is unbeatable. We’re all so busy doing our various businesses that there isn’t always time to physically visit everyone. But taking a few extra minutes to pick up a phone and speak with those from whom you buy makes the relationship far more meaningful. I can actually feel the smile coming from the person on the other end of the phone. We can laugh together, be real together… It becomes not just me helping out the everyday Joe but rather a mutual exchange of contribution that has otherwise become lost in the impersonal world of technology.
On Being an Entrepreneur
GUY: What were you doing before you became an entrepreneur with Patty, and what facilitated the shift?
A quick synopsis. L.A. born and bred, owner of a successful nationwide Commercial Interior Design firm. Sold the company and left the city after 34 years to stop keeping up with the Joneses and came to Washington State in 1986. Got a job as a high-paying live-away Commercial Project Director but quit to come home to be with my family. My kids admitted they missed me. So did my wife, Patty. And vice versa.
I was willing to do anything for income and created a 2-week opportunity right around the corner from where we lived to work for a very successful online company called Dream Essentials. I knew nothing about the online world. Well, two weeks turned into two years during which I soaked up everything and anything to run an online company. Patty and I began Nurture My Body during that period and I’d work at Dream Essentials during the day and Nurture My Body at night. Eventually, the writing was on the wall for me to leave Dream Essentials because our own company was growing and required my full attention.
GUY: Starting a business from the ground up has got to be challenging. Did you have any idea?
Yes. I mean no. Well, both. Yes because of the enormous input I gleaned from Dream Essentials on how to set up and operate an online business. And no, because of one teensy weensy bit of very important missing info – how a mom-and-pop beauty products company was going to compete with the multimillion dollar giants out there such as Burt’s Bees and Aubrey Organics!
Ever thought about starting your own business? There’s a lot to think about! Rich was willing to drill down a little further for us and offer some more guy-to-guy advice.
GUY: Is there any piece of technology or aspect media, whether an iPhone or social media or other platform that has been an especially useful tool for promoting your business?
Rich: Few things. I learned to make sure that our website is designed to be used on SmartPhones. It’s different than for a computer. You’ve lost a potential customer if they cannot navigate your site on their SmartPhone.
Next, of course, is social media. In today’s business world you and I will trust a product review of someone we don’t know over a paid advertisement. Nothing beats word of mouth, still. For our company I delved into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon with the “winner” being Facebook. Why? It comes back to the “voice.” I can “talk” to people on Facebook. Have them get a real sense of who I am. My personality. I have a way of writing where they can touch an owner of a company and feel they are being listened to, concerns addressed, and have information and education passed on. The most important thing is for our customers and potential customers to be educated about today’s choices of safe and effective alternatives and we use Facebook to do that. Plus, we have a ton of fun with giveaways, questions, behind-the-scenes happenings – things like that. And BTW, if you have a business page on Facebook, don’t push your products. Too “advertisey.” Push knowledge, transparency and fun, which build trust.
Then there’s blogging. Here’s a place where you can write about relevant topics that your customer base has interest in. And I’ve been proven wrong with my former assumption that people don’t read anymore. They do. And our peeps really want to have a better grasp about the world of organic personal care and how it relates to them personally. Some people think writing a blog is hard. It’s really not. Just write about what you know, what you are passionate about. And write as if you are talking to your audience as your friend rather than as a college professor. That is unless you are writing an article for other college professors.
Aah, lastly there’s video as a useful tool to promote your business. This is an up-and-coming way to build your biz. I use this medium for many things. Product demos, fireside chats to share knowledge, behind-the-scene happenings at the Nurture My Body Farm, or just to say thanks to our amazing customers for supporting our dream. There are definitely certain points that should be covered in your presentation so do some studying for your particular niche. If you’re camera shy, no worries. Just be yourself, not something contrived. My videos are not expensive and unprofessionally produced with my own little camera, so no need to hire an expensive company. And they work.
GUY: What piece of advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time?
Rich: What I would do much earlier next time (if there is a next time) is to take advantage of professional services of an SEO Company. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is absolutely imperative for an online company to generate exposure and ultimately, sales. You and I go no further than page 1 of Google or Bing or Yahoo when searching for a particular product, and if your company’s keyword search terms are not ranked for page 1 then your growth can be very slow, painful and scary at times. Very scary, in fact.
I did an enormous amount of studying and research over the years on how to get our products highly ranked; however it is truly a specialty to know this field. I got somewhat good at it, but not exceptional, which is what’s warranted. And be careful of the barrage of solicitors you’ll get for SEO. Your best bet is a friend’s recommendation.
Guy to Guy
GUY: In your words, why should a guy care about what products he shaves or showers with? Let’s play the devil’s advocate — shouldn’t looking great and snagging a nice-looking dame be at the top of the list of priorities? Tree hugging, not so much.
Sure, you want to “snag” her and she wants to be snagged. But that woman is checking you out from head to toe just like you are doing to her… Eventually, you’ll be cheek-to-cheek. And if you shave, how many women do you know who just love to have their face torn apart by a scratchy beard? Do you think she would be unsuspectingly pleased to be rubbing up against a face that is soft yet manly? For us, most of our customers are women who know how important it is to use safe and healthy personal care products these days. And if you just happen to be on the same page, well hell, perhaps an amazing relationship of similar reflections just may have a kick-start.
GUY: With a two “man” band doing all of the purchasing, manufacturing, packaging, marketing, customer service, etc, you must have an incredibly long work day and not many vacations. Many of our readers also work insane jobs. What do you do to relax like a gentleman, stay balanced, and keep your sanity?
Patty and I do all of the above with the exception of the manufacturing. Our company has master herbalists that do the actual production of the ingredients in a laboratory using Patty’s formulations – from herbs and flowers to the finished product. From that point Patty and I take it from 5-gallon drums and fill individual bottles by hand. We just passed our 14,000th bottle mark! Everything else, purchasing, packaging, marketing, customer service and website maintenance is personally done by Patty and me.
… [ I &91; snuggle with Patty. That’s the first thing I do to relax. We’ve discovered that it’s imperative to get away from the business and plop down on the couch and catch a Netflix every now and then.
However there’s another female in my life. In Patty’s too. Her name is Bella and she’s our favorite pet goat! Now picture this. An L.A.-bred guy, former 3-piece suit businessman running a nationwide design and architectural firm who now only wears jeans living on a 5-acre farm in Washington State. I wouldn’t trade it to go back to L.A. for all the tea in China. Relaxation to me is walking around our property, petting our 3 goats (mostly Bella), collecting fresh eggs from our chickens and feeding greens to our rabbits. It’s a veritable National Geographic over here. And at night I can actually see stars — something only dreamed about beyond the smog-filled skies in Los Angeles.
GUY: You’re not defined by your business. There are top sales executives that read Watchmen and Preacher comics on weekends and evenings in lieu of Business Week… Guy wants to know what makes you tick. What are you reading, and what’s your favorite movie?
I’m usually reading a couple things at once, switching back and forth. One book will be business related and the other for pleasure. My business reading at the moment is The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s about ‘that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.’ I’m endeavoring to discover how this phenomenon can affect our business.
Two kinds of pleasure. First, to ‘get away’ I thoroughly enjoy the writings of Dan Brown, such as The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, or Michael Crichton, who wrote Timeline. Secondly, I live with everyday proof of how thought creates reality, which can be scientifically proven by quantum physics. But I must confess that the strict writings of quantum physics can be a bit taxing for my comprehension so I have found a brilliantly creative writer, Robert Gilmore, who explains the complicated and wacky world of quantum physics using allegory from children’s stories. I’m just about to finish Alice in Quantumland, which explains the nature of subatomic particles… My next adventure will be with The Wizard Quarks followed by Scrooge’s Cryptic Carol.
My favorite movie has to be The Help… It’s filled with honest emotion, humor and hope and is a timeless story about the ability to create change. Change, although uncomfortable, is the fire that burns away the past and makes way for dreams of the future, now. I’m all for that.
Some guys would call this type of movie a ‘chick-flick’ and would never be caught dead wasting their time watching such a thing. ...Most of us guys end up living with chicks at some time in our lives and it behooves us to have a better understanding of how they think, how they tick.
GUY: What do you do to stay healthy and in shape?
Pretty simple. When you own a farm there’s no need to join a gym, run on a treadmill or press barbells. Want to get in shape? Come help me with my 5-acres of chores – install fencing, chop wood, mow lawns, build a wood shed, and weed vegetable gardens! And along with ‘natural’ exercise and healthy personal care products (courtesy of Nurture My Body!), I eat organic foods, drink red wine and take supplements called Ageless Essentials with Product B from Isagenix.
GUY: Every guy’s got a guilty pleasure, whether fly fishing or pistachio icecream. What’s yours?
Hands down my guilty pleasure has to be dark chocolate. And then if that dark chocolate just happens to surround a raisin, well, heaven on earth!
Thanks so much to Rich for an amazing interview that was eight months in the making — many phone calls, emails, and back and forth — and always with a smile. ~ Andrea Rothe